(Note: This is a fictional creative writing exercise, inspired by hours of contemplation of which animated performances have been most worthy of attention over the years. This feature imagines that a Best Voice Performance category was added to the Oscars following Beauty and the Beast’s nomination for Best Picture at the 64th Academy Awards. Each week I’ll cover the hypothetical nominees and winner from one year of animated performances.)
Following what many considered to be a huge upset at the 72nd Academy Awards, at which Vin Diesel beat out Tom Hanks for the Best Voice Performance Oscar, the category gained a reputation for being one of the most unpredictable of the Academy Awards. Since its inception the award occasionally went to the obvious frontrunner, but just as often to a different, more unusual performance, making for interesting viewing but frustrating the odds-makers. The slate of animated films for 2000 offered up no clear smash hits, making prediction even murkier.
2000 – Nominees for Best Voice Performance in a Motion Picture:
- John Goodman (Pacha) – The Emperor’s New Groove
- Eartha Kitt (Yzma) – The Emperor’s New Groove
- Julia Sawalha (Ginger) – Chicken Run
- David Spade (Kuzco) – The Emperor’s New Groove
- Patrick Warburton (Kronk) – The Emperor’s New Groove
Despite a wide spectrum of animated films in 2000, four nominees came from the same film. Many potential movies were seemingly overlooked, including Dinosaur, The Road to El Dorado, The Tigger Movie and Titan A.E., which caused some frustration among fans hoping for a repeat of the bizarre nominees of 1996. While it was generally agreed that The Emperor’s New Groove deserved to be nominated, especially considering how integral the performances were to delivering the film’s unique humor, it was thought that four nominations was excessive. There was a backlash against the film in favor of Julia Sawalha, who beat out her more famous costar, Mel Gibson, for Chicken Run’s only nomination, though most insiders predicted a win for legend Eartha Kitt, in keeping with the award’s tendency to go to villains.
Patrick Warburton (Kronk) – The Emperor’s New Groove
Warburton seemed genuinely shocked both at the win and the enthusiastic cheers that followed. He movingly dedicated his award to Eartha Kitt, before singing his own theme music, Kronk-style, and exiting the stage. No one could have guessed at the time that his role as Kronk would be the start of an extremely successful voice acting career, which would include portraying Kronk in the TV series inspired by the film, a recurring role on Family Guy and roles in many animated features in the years to come. After several high-profile winners of the award, there was a sense of happiness at a lesser known winner. Everything would change before the next Oscars, however, with the addition of the Best Animated Feature category.
What do you think? Would Warburton win over Eartha Kitt? What roles from other films deserved nominations? Was 2000 a somewhat lackluster year for animation? Do you think having a Best Animated Feature category would conflict with this imaginary Best Voice Performance category? Who do you think will be nominated from 2001? Let me know in the comments!